Our editors have been plenty busy scouring the show floor of the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show — but in between running to and from press conferences and battling spotty Wi-Fi connections, they picked their three favorite concept and production cars at the show.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
They look like the future and they show that BMW, which told us two years ago during the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show that it was taking electric drivetrains very seriously, is going to provide EVs that serve both urban commuters (i3) and enthusiast drivers (i8). And that’s something to celebrate.
Further evidence that the number-two Korean automaker is not only on a rapid ascendency to the big time but will soon eclipse its big brother, Hyundai, in matters of styling excellence. So they had to raid a major German design studio for their styling chief; automotive styling is the most multinational discipline within the automotive industry.
Volkswagen Beetle R
If you’ve spent any time in a New Beetle, the car that took Americans by storm back in 1998, you’ll be shocked when you slide behind the thin-rimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel of this sport hatch. The interior fairly screams an equal mixture of quality and performance, and the exterior matches the aesthetic. It’s one of the cars at IAA that I most wanted to drive and it finally makes the modern Beetle a real enthusiast’s car.
Ford Focus ST
It looks like it will fulfill the promises made by Ford’s European development team starting three years ago, culminating in the concept shown a year ago at the Paris Motor Show. It brings the Focus back to the forefront of affordable, fun performance for American enthusiasts; it’s a reincarnation of the much-missed and short-lived SVT Focus, and it looks great.
This semi-affordable small family hauler goes from utilitarian to stylish and heralds Mercedes-Benz’s plans to bring five distinct vehicles to America built on its brand-new compact platform. The B-class actually will be the last; look for a production version of the first model we’ll see, the A-class, at the 2012 New York Auto Show, and for that vehicle to be in U.S. dealerships in fall 2012 as a 2013 model. Mercedes, it seems, is finally getting serious about premium small cars, more than a decade after its archival, BMW, did so with the Mini brand.
The all-new 991-series is the best-looking version of the iconic German sports car for at least three generations. I want one in my driveway and I’ll take a base model with the seven-speed manual, please. I know, I know, the car never changes, really. I don’t care.